Dinner Party Idea: DIY Ramen Potluck!

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We love to entertain. Dinner parties are a great way to have friends over to hang out and enjoy a good meal without breaking the budget.

We also love Ramen- not Top Ramen, but delicious, mouthwatering, tempting noodles, velvety broth, veggies, and soft boiled eggs. Doing a Ramen potluck is great way to try out new flavors that you may have never thought of.

In doing research for this article, I found out that there are so many ramen toppings and ingredients that I had never heard of (like corn, which you can see in the picture above). So some of the ingredients listed below may not make it into your potluck, but know that somewhere out there there is someone putting it on/in their ramen.

The host can provide the broth. As far as ramen broths, there are lots of options. I like Tonkatsu, which is pork and chicken based. Here is a great recipe.  Not interested in making it from scratch? You can buy Tonkatsu broth concentrate on Amazon.

If you are vegan, Ocean’s Halo makes a great seaweed based ramen broth. Miso is also a popular ramen soup base (Ocean’s Halo also makes great miso, pho, and veggie broth). We usually try to have two big pots of broth to choose from.

Screen Shot 2018-12-30 at 9.26.13 AM.pngAs far as noodles, you can get regular ramen noodles at any Asian grocery store (or most 99 Cents Only locations). I’m not talking about the kind that come in a little bag with a pouch of salty broth, those are fried so they cook super fast and aren’t really all that healthy.

I like the Organic Millet & Brown Rice Ramen from Lotus Foods. As a bonus these are gluten free and have protein in them. Our local Costco sells large packages, which is great for parties.

Some people like Soba noodles (thick buckwheat noodles), and some people like zoodles (the spiral cut zucchini “noodles”).

Now that you’ve got broth and noodles down, it’s time to get creative with toppings! Here are just a few ideas for guests to bring:

  • Eggs: I love a good soft-boiled egg on my ramen.
  • Scallions/green onions
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Seaweed/Nori sheets
  • Canned Bamboo shoots (they will need to be rinsed and probably sliced to made bite-sized.
  • Corn Kernels (defrosted frozen, fresh, or canned with no salt- drained and rinsed).
  • Mayu/Black Garlic Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • Chili Sauce
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Pickled Ginger
  • Fish Sauce
  • Kimchi
  • Fried Tofu
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Sliced fresh Jalapeños
  • Fried or pan steamed Gyoza
  • Roasted /braised slices of pork (fattier cuts of pork are great in ramen)
  • Cooked Shrimp (I can’t really give you any other suggestions on cooking/serving, I’m allergic to shellfish)
  • Fish Cakes (available at your local Asian Market)
  • Bok Choy
  • Mushrooms (Sliced shiitakes are nice, as are enoki)

And some people like rice as a side to their ramen. I prefer sticky rice, it’s easier to eat with chopsticks.

If you’ve got friends that don’t cook, don’t forget you’ll need chopsticks, bowls, spoons, and beverages.

Talk Back: What is your favorite type of Ramen? 

Frugal (and healthy recipe): Zucchini chips!

file000926780482.jpgWe’ve been blessed (?) with an abundance of yellow zucchini as of late. Friends with gardens and  a CSA box have brought us literally 10 lbs of yellow zucchini…. That’s a lot. So after making lasagna, stir fry, and zoodles, We were still left with 6 of those little yellow bastards, staring me in the face.

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 6.34.48 PM.pngI googled “What to do with Yellow Zucchini” and the answers were shockingly, NSFW. However, deep in the recesses of Google were many recipes for baked chips.  Figuring it had to be better than my kale chips debacle (5 lbs of burnt, greasy kale bits, no thanks), I set off to work.

The first batch was too greasy, so the batch that’s in the oven now has far less oil (only 2 tablespoons). Hubs said they were tasty (albeit greasy), and even Itty Bitty gobbled a bunch down today (after I blotted them with a paper towel).

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Now, to wait…..

Feel free to sub in any herb or spice blend you like, I grabbed the first one off the spice rack.

Baked Yellow Zucchini Chips

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs yellow (or green) zucchini
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T (or more), your favorite salt free herb or spice blend
  • salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Thinly slice coins of zucchini- you can use a mandoline like this one, or a knife- whatever you’ve got.
  2. Blot them dry between two paper towels. I let mine sit between two paper towels for about 30 minutes.
  3. Toss with oil, and spread 1 layer on a cookie sheet topped with a sil pad (or you can use parchment paper- whatever you’ve got).
  4. Sprinkle oiled slices with herbs or spices.
  5. Bake at 225 degrees for a minimum of 2 hours. Check after 2 hours. Depending on how thick your chips are cut, it may take up to 2 1/2 hours.
  6. After they are room temp, then sprinkle with salt to taste. Store in a sealed container on the counter. They stay good for 3-4 days, but they won’t last that long.

Quick Recipe: Easy, Healthy Brownies!

IMGP8542.jpgIn the search for healthier yummy recipes to feed Lil’ Man, I stumbled upon a recipe for black bean brownies. Ok, so stop making that face and read on. Oh, and this one is GLUTEN FREE!!

I read the recipe, and a bunch of comments and did some more investigating online and made a few tweaks to the recipe and got to cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 T. sugar free applesauce
  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 T. Hazelnut extract (You could use vanilla)
  • 1 1/2 c brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 t. instant coffee crystals (optional)- I used 1 t. of very strong coffee instead.
  • 1 C. chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 8×8 baking dish. I used an 8 inch round baking dish.
  3. In a blender, combine all of the ingredients EXCEPT the chocolate chips. This is important.  I didn’t do this!
  4. Pour batter into greased baking dish and top with chocolate chips. Bake for 25-35 minutes.  The brownies are super fudgy. If you want cake-ier brownies, add a pinch of baking powder.

 

If you like your brownies really sweet, add 1/4 c. white sugar. I like my desserts not super sweet, so I opted to use a little less sugar, and I’ll top mine with a scoop of ice cream- Yum!

They are not bean-y.  If I didn’t know they had beans in them. I wouldn’t be able to tell.  They are very moist, fudgy brownie. And if you use a flax egg and vegan chocolate chips, you’ve got a yummy vegan recipe!